New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

studio journal

Video, audio, patch notes

Office Accessory

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


New workspace essential. Really nice. The mono mix out puts the guitar into the left and right channels, and uses a 3.5mm jack — so: right into the headphones; no adapter needed. And no, I’m not playing it loud through the headphones. This is just for practicing half an hour or so — and for not bothering other people with (currently) the minor pentatonic on repeat all over the fretboard.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Space Less Constrained

Saturday afternoon, April 23, 2022

An afternoon by a local lake in Golden Gate Park, traffic behind me and filtered through trees, joggers and baby carriages this way and that but not too numerous, the more prominent motors heard here not of street vehicles but of tiny little remote-controlled boats that enthusiasts bring to the manufactured water feature and race around regularly amid geese, turtles, and the occasional surface-breaching fish. The scene this past Saturday afternoon, banh mi and ebook in hand, was much more idyllic in person, I assure you. The birdsong was more prominent and diverse. The sense of space was less constrained. And the growling gusto of those hobbyist machines was significantly reduced in the context of the boats’ minuscule size.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

A Chorus of Sorts

On the way back from Brooklyn

The subway was my destination, and all the more so when I reached the top of the staircase. This was in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, last week, toward the end of a recent trip I took back east. I’ve since returned to the Bay Area, where the world is considerably less dense — with people, with activity, with sound. In Greenpoint, it seemed, in that moment — in the moment preceding this audio — like a chorus might be performing down below the surface of the city, the voices gaining heft in the twisting, tiled hallways. I was in no rush to return to Manhattan, so when I took my first step down, I was looking forward to lingering. Buskers are one thing. Buskers transformed by the cavernous sound conduit that is a subway is something else entirely.

However, as is often the case with audio illusions (or hallucinations, perhaps), the impression I had fallen prey to was dispelled the moment I reached for my phone’s record button. It’s not simply a matter that I can’t hear the chorus in the audio I recorded. It’s that I no longer heard it when I was there. It simply evaporated. But the change in atmosphere did not deter me. I continued to record as I made my way.

You can hear those footsteps, my foosteps, here. I had two pairs of footwear on the trip: sneakers that are like marshmallows, and boot-like shoes that are firm as tires. This day was a tire day, and the hard tap of each step is evident. Once upon a time, the presence of those footsteps in the recording would have disappointed me. I would have thought of evidence of my being in the place as a taint. Instead, the footsteps lend a linear context to the sounds. They confirm for a listener, even one who was not present at the time, that space is being navigated. And I was, in the end, rewarded with a voice — not a chorus, per se, but a municipal announcement so utterly altered by the echo that it became a sort of chorus itself. Perhaps the very chorus that had caught my imagination earlier on.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

The Room Tone of the City

A field recording four times over

I was sitting in a room, perhaps like the room you are in as you read this. It was very early on April 13, 2022, and I had been listening to the city I was in, Manhattan, as it woke, and as I woke along with it. Construction had already begun by the time I lifted my head, and I hit record on my phone to capture the combination of irritant and coziness that the muffled sounds of building provided. On the one hand, these were not comforting noises. On the other, they were quite quiet, especially from my tiny, 12-floor hotel room. I thought about how much the annoyance of the sound was tied not just to the time of day, but to how the small sounds could permeate my otherwise remote and private hotel room: how the sounds could be present without being overwhelming.

And so, having recorded 45 seconds of the sound from where I was seated, at a small desk, I decided to combine the outdoor sound with itself — to, in effect, magnify it. To accomplish this task, I played the initial 45-second recording on my laptop’s speakers, and recorded it as it sounded in the hotel room, while a variation on the outdoors naturally (or unnaturally, depending on your perspective) proceeded. Then I did this layering a second time, and then a third. Each time I added sound, the result was not particularly louder, or even all that eventful. There was clanging and droning, but there was still a lot of space present, not silent space but quiet space: the room tone of the city.

At first I thought I would just upload the fourth track, but instead I made a longer recording that presented the transition from one segment to the next. I treated each of the four recordings with a fade-in, and then I concatenated them, so just before the first recording ended, the second one began, and then the third, and then the fourth. And then I faded out the fourth track, so the full piece didn’t end suddenly. It’s quite remarkable how little happens in the finished piece, how the sound combined with a variant on itself multiple times is not that much more dense, not that much more full, than was the original. It speaks to both the relative quietude of morning Manhattan, and to the way the ear processes aberrations and unwanted occurrences. This is “Construction Kit.”

Track originally posted to soundcloud.com/disquiet.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Spacers

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt

Maybe not a long-term solution, but fun to experiment with

Tag: / Leave a comment ]
  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

  • Field Notes

    News, essays, surveillance

  • Interviews

    Conversations with musicians/artists/coders

  • Studio Journal

    Video, audio, patch notes

  • Projects

    Select collaborations and commissions

  • Subscribe



  • Current Activities

  • Upcoming
    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

  • disquiet junto

  • Background
    Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.

    Recent Projects

  • 0555 / A Simple Timer / The Assignment: Simplify by a factor of 5.
    0554 / Cage Chord / The Assignment: Riff on a chord by John Cage.
    0553 / Break That Cycle / The Assignment: Record in a steady tempo but break it on occasion.
    0552 / The Radio in My Life / The Assignment: Record music in response to a John Cage and Morton Feldman conversation.
    0551 / The Bends / The Assignment: Get less strict about something you're strict about.

  • Full Index
    And there is a complete list of past projects, 555 consecutive weeks to date.

  • Archives

    By month and by topic

  • [email protected]

    [email protected]

  • Downstream

    Recommended listening each weekday

  • Recent Posts